Slaying of Ben Avon teen latest tragedy to strike family
Kyle Stauber's dad died in May, about a month before the Hampton High School senior turned 18 and graduated.
Eric Stauber, of Ben Avon, had been spending time in Florida flipping properties. One night, the 50-year-old rode his bicycle home, crashed into a curb and landed in the street, where his head was run over by a police cruiser .
Kyle Stauber was close to his dad, so the loss shook him deeply, said his grandmother, Toni Stauber, 75, of Casselberry, Fla.
The 18-year-old grappled with his grief by pouring energy into renovating his father's Ben Avon house that he inherited. Over the summer, he replaced its roof. He was working two jobs — one managing a Jimmy John's sandwich shop, another as an interior house painter — and making progress toward paying off his dad's debt, said Toni Stauber, Eric's mother.
On Thursday night, Kyle Stauber was hanging out with his girlfriend and a few friends at the cream-colored, two-story house along a quiet stretch of Spruce Run Road. Around midnight, they were sitting on the living room couch when two white men and one black man burst through the unlocked door, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.
At 12:09 a.m., Avalon police Officer Craig Canella arrived to find Kyle Stauber lying on the ground in a muddy lot several hundred feet from the house. Stauber had been shot several times in the head and body but was alert enough to tell Canella that he knew who shot him, identifying Gregg Scholze, the complaint said.
A doctor pronounced Stauber dead at 1:25 a.m. at Allegheny General Hospital.
Around 9 a.m., Allegheny County Police arrested Scholze, 19, at a West View house and charged him with homicide, robbery, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Police announced Friday night that they charged Scholze's girlfriend, Kayla Lynn Naper, 19, of West View, with homicide, robbery and criminal conspiracy, according to a separate affidavit. Naper told police she drove Scholze and the other suspects to Stauber's house because of a dispute over a marijuana bong they believed belonged to Naper.
County police did not identify other suspects as of Friday night.
Four of the witnesses who were inside the house said they knew Scholze, according to the complaint.
After entering “unannounced and uninvited,” the intruders told the group they were being robbed and to empty their pockets, the complaint said. The intruders reportedly took off with a Sony PS4 console, controllers and games; three glass bongs and pipes; a wallet; a cell phone; and two packs of cigarettes.
One witness said that as Scholze left he pulled a black pistol from his waistband, aimed it at the sky and pulled the slide back.
Kyle Stauber's girlfriend, Melissa Chantz, told police she grabbed a knife and started chasing the intruders, then took cover behind a trailer when one of them fired a gun at her, the complaint continued.
Stauber ran past her carrying a baseball bat and started hitting the intruders' sedan.
Chantz said she heard a car window shatter and two gunshots fired from the vehicle as it sped off, according to the complaint.
Toni Stauber couldn't make sense of the tragedy.
“I just can't believe it. It's so stupid,” she said by phone. “If they wanted to break in, why couldn't they have done it when nobody was there? There was no reason for it.”
She described her grandson as quiet with a shy demeanor who enjoyed working with computers and had a close-knit set of friends.
“He was the kindest, sweetest, most loving young man you would ever meet in your life,” she said, noting Kyle Stauber never let a holiday go by without a call or text to say, “I love you.” “He didn't have a mean bone in his body. That's why it's so hard to believe that he even picked up a bat to go after them.”
A witness who was robbed told police a male intruder asked them “where Kayla's bong was,” according to the complaint against Naper.
Naper told police that a month ago, a bong that belonged to her worth $300 to $400 was stolen from Scholze's car. The couple spotted its distinctive shape in what looked like Stauber's Ben Avon home on a Snapchat post around 11:15 p.m. Thursday, and shortly thereafter, Scholze told Naper they needed to “go somewhere,” according to the complaint.
With Naper behind the wheel of her Nissan Sentra sedan and Scholze in the passenger seat, the pair picked up a white man and a black man at a convenience store in West View, the complaint said. They then headed for Stauber's home.
Police said they found in the house where they arrested Scholze and Naper several of the stolen items, including a wallet, and men's clothing with red-brown stains.
Scholtz and Naper are scheduled to appear before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning for preliminary hearings on Feb. 8.
Hampton High offers counselors
In response to Kyle Stauber's death, Hampton High School has taken steps to make psychologists and counselors available to students and staff, district officials said.
“We would like to extend our sincere condolences to Kyle's family,” Principal Marguerite Imbarlina said in a statement. “They are in our thoughts during this most difficult time.”
Eva Williams, who lives across the creek and around the corner, said she hasn't witnessed anything violent happen there in more than 50 years. She didn't hear gunshots but woke around 2 a.m. to see flashing police lights from her hall window. Friends called to check in on her and tell her they heard about a homicide on the news.
Around noon, Williams tried knocking on the door of the house that had been robbed.
Dried blood clung to the front doorknob. On the lighted front patio, a half-empty beer bottle sat on a fire pit alongside a snow shovel and white bag of trash.
“I'm not afraid, but it was frightening to know that someone was shot and killed right there,” Williams said. “I raised my four kids down here. This is a nice neighborhood.”
When she heard her son was killed, Kyle Stauber's mother — a West View bar owner who was on a trip in Florida — dropped the phone and collapsed, Toni Stauber said. The mother, who could not be reached by the Trib, got on the first plane home she could, Toni Stauber said.
The past year has been riddled with tragedy for the family. A few months ago, the great grandmother who helped raise Kyle Stauber died.
“He was working so hard to get the house fixed up and take care of some debts that his dad had, and he never complained,” Toni Stauber said. “He wanted to follow in his dad's footsteps and flip houses and just make his dad proud.”
Messages expressing sympathy flooded the grieving grandmother's Facebook page, on which she posted, “All I can say is he is now with his dad. My heart is broken.”
Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514 or email@example.com. Tribune-Review staff writer Bob Bauder contributed.